🔼The name Mars in the Bible
The Latin name of the war-god Mars doesn't occur in the Bible; only that of its Greek counterpart Ares, and that only in the form of the compound name Αρειος Παγος; Areopagus, which the King James Version confusingly translates with Mars Hill (Acts 17:22).
The pantheon of the Romans and the Greeks consisted largely of the same or similar gods, but there is a distinct difference between Mars and Ares. The not so well respected Ares was the god of actual combat and the destruction that followed, and he needed the guidance of the wise goddess Athena to not destroy everything. Mars on the other hand embodied both, and (as expressed in his romance with Venus) became the god of peace by means of military superiority. This explains why Mars could also be the god of husbandry, of shepherds and seers. Mars was also considered the father of Romulus, and as such the progenitor of the Roman people.
The Latin name Mars isn't used in the Bible, but the name Mars is often (erroneously) thought to be the root of the name Marcus (or Mark, the proposed name of the author of the gospel), and that makes the name Mars relevant to our onomasticon.
🔼Etymology of the name Mars
According to Lewis and Short A Latin Dictionary, the name Mars is a contracted form of the older name Mavors (and perhaps this contraction can be explained in part by the influence of the Greek name Ares). The name Mavors, or according to some sources Mavort, in turn, is a compound of:
- The Old Latin verb mah or margh, meaning to cut, and which exists in Greek as μαχη.
- The verb vor, meaning to turn. This verb lies at the heart of the verb vortere, from whence comes our word vortex.
Note that the Semitic name of the god of death was Mot or Maveth, which is related to the noun מת (mat), which denotes "a man capable of combat". That noun or the name Mot often returns in compound names, such as Jeremoth or Methuselah.
According to Lewis and Short, Mavors was The Turner Of The Battle, but it seems that Mavors or Mars rather turned the battle to peace than peace to battle.
The name of this much revered Roman deity became applied to a wide range of entities, from the planet Mars and the third month of the Julian and Gregorian calendars (March or Martius in Latin, which was the first month of the Roman year), to the names Martin and Mark or Marcus (or so it's generally and supposed).
The cherished Mars bar was named after its inventor Forrest Mars, who based it on the widely popular Milky Way bar made by his father Frank C. Mars. Although these names and phrases are enticingly celestial, the name of the Milky Way bar was apparently derived from a popular milkshake.